Disclosure: Thank you to the Beef Checkoff for hosting me at their headquarters in Denver, Colorado. I’m proud to say that I’m now more confident cooking with beef! All opinions expressed are entirely my own.
Two weeks ago I traveled to Denver, Colorado with a small group of food bloggers, dieticians and nutritionists to learn about all things beef. The trip was hosted by the Beef Checkoff, an organization funded by cattle farmers and ranchers that is aimed at increasing consumer knowledge about beef production and consumption in America. And let me tell you, the folks at the Beef Checkoff did not disappoint. Because holy cow (pun intended), did I learn A TON on this trip.
As a result, I’m feeling much more confident (and more excited!) about incorporating beef into my diet on a regular basis. So I thought I’d share a few tidbits that I picked up. And of course, I’ve got a mouthwatering beef recipe to go along with it. So get ready to commence drooling!
We all know that protein is an important part of our nutrition. And there are a lot of ways in which we can incorporate protein into our diets. But admittedly, I kind of forgot how great beef is as a source of protein. One 3-ounce serving of lean beef provides 25 grams (which is about half) of the Daily Value for protein. Do you know how much cooked quinoa you’d have to eat to achieve that level? 3 cups. And peanut butter? How about 6 tablespoons. That’s a lot of eating! And the calories from all those extra servings can add up quickly, which makes a single serving of lean beef look like a pretty smart choice.
I also learned that due to changes in cattle breeding and fat trimming methods over the years, there are now more than 35 cuts of beef that qualify as “lean” (FDA definition of lean = less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol per 3.5-ounce serving). Which is great news! Because it means that as consumers, we have so many options when it comes to incorporating beef as part of our healthy diets.
But with all the choices of lean beef available, it can be hard to decide which cut(s) to buy when you’re at the grocery store staring face to face with the meat case. The names can be confusing (often one cut of meat can go by multiple names) and the best way to prepare different cuts isn’t always obvious. That’s when the Interactive Butcher Counter comes in handy. You can get names, nutritional information, preferred cooking methods and even links to recipes right from your phone! Make sure to bookmark it and use it next time you’re out shopping. I think you’ll find it really useful!
OK, I know you’re probably all chomping at the bit, so let’s chat briefly about these Grilled Tenderloin and Eggplant Open-Faced Caprese Sandwiches. Which are the epitome of summer right now. Oh and by the way, summer is most certainly NOT over yet. So back away from the pumpkin. Seriously, people. We’ve still got meat to grill, tomatoes to eat and ice cream to churn. Let’s not rush things.
I used tenderloin for this recipe, which is one of my favorite cuts of lean beef. And then I piled it high on top of some grilled bread with grilled eggplant, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. These babies work great for lunch or dinner. And you can eat them cold or warm. Which makes them kind of a perfect little sandwich, if I do say so myself.
One of the most important things you can do to get a great beef eating experience is to make sure you are cutting the beef against the grain (i.e. cutting perpendicular to the grain, not parallel or with the grain). I know we’ve all heard that a million times. But it’s really important. If you can’t tell which way the grain is running (it can be hard if you’ve got a rub or sauce on the beef), just test a small little corner of the beef before diving right in with your knife!
- For the Tenderloin
- 1 lb beef tenderloin steaks, about 1-inch thick
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. ground coffee
- 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- For the Sandwiches
- 1 medium-large eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
- 8-10 slices of rustic bread
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and black pepper
- 2 large tomatoes, sliced
- 8-10 slices fresh mozzarella cheese
- Fresh basil leaves
- Balsamic vinegar
- Grill the tenderloin. Remove the tenderloin steaks from your refrigerator and place them on your counter top to come to room temperature, about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, pre-heat your grill to medium. Mix the salt, sugar, black pepper, coffee and cayenne pepper together in a small bowl. Add the olive oil and stir until a paste forms. Then rub the paste into a thin layer all over the sides of the tenderloin steaks.
- Place the steaks on the grill and cook for about 10-15 minutes, flipping the steaks once during cooking and checking the internal temperature for your desired level of doneness (145 degrees = medium-rare; 160 degrees = medium). Remove the steaks from the grill and place them on a clean plate. Set aside.
- Brush both sides of the eggplant and the bread slices with some of the extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Place on your grill. Cook the eggplant until tender and browned, about 6-8 minutes, flipping once halfway through cooking. Grill the bread until slightly crisp, about 1-2 minutes per side. Remove everything from the grill and set aside.
- Thinly slice the tenderloin steaks against the grain.
- Assemble the sandwiches. Layer the mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, basil leaves, sliced tenderloin and eggplant onto the slices of grilled bread. Drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar. Serve immediately.
What beautiful sandwiches and great beef tips, too! Craving this now 🙂
Looks like you had a wonderful trip, love. Can’t wait to hear more about it.
Oh this is so lovely! I want one of these sandwiches now.
Come on over, Jocelyn! I’ll make you one!
What a fun trip!! I feel like beef has this negative association that comes with it for being high in fat and generally bad for you, but there are SOOO many other faucets to beef than just ribeye that are good for you! Love these sandwiches, and that beef, cooked to perfection!
That is absolutely is the biggest misconception about beef. There are so many great, lean choices out there. It’s easy to make it a healthy part of your diet. Glad you love the sandwiches, Nicole!
Oh.My.Gawsh- These lovely bites of beefy deliciousness take the saying “Holy Cow” to an entirely new level! These open faced sammies look BEYOND spectacular! My mouth is all sorts of drooling just THINKING about stuffing my face with these! Tenderloin is my favs cut of beef as well, but paired with eggplant, tomatoes, mozzarella, basil AND balsamic? GIMME THAT! Thanks for all the fun beef 411 as well! That app looks seriously cool, I have gotta check it out! Pinned! Cheers, Liz! And thanks for making me officially VERY hungry! 😉
Thanks, Cheyanne. So should I pass you a couple napkins! 🙂
Liz, your trip was like a beef lover’s dream!!! 🙂 I LOVE these open faced caprese sandwiches!!! LOVE the beef tenderloin steaks and the eggplant!!!! Looks absolutely delicious!
Thanks, Alice! It was such a great trip! Glad you love the sandwiches!
Knowing and feeling good about what you’re eating is SO important! Love these open faced sandwiches- you cannot go wrong with caprese 🙂
I just got a bunch of eggplant in my CSA box, so this will be a perfect way to use it!
That’s great to hear, Nora!
I’ve always wanted to visit Colorado! It looks like a nature lovers paradise. And you’re now such a beef expert. Thanks for the tip on the app. These sandwiches sound delicious! Great flavor combination : )
Well, I don’t know if I’m an expert. Expect in the eating department. 🙂
Wow! What a scrumptious little sandwich Liz! I love all the flavors you combined! Sounds like you learned a lot and enjoyed your trip!
It was really great. Thanks, Mary Ann!
I love beef!! And to add grilled eggplant and a salad on top of a piece of bread? This is the perfect meal! Can’t wait to go out to the grill and do this.
Yay yay! I know you’ll love it Gabriel!
You KNOW I love my protein, so I am all about the beef! And these sandwiches with that eggplant? Seriously, I am totally drooling over my screen right now! Pinned!
That trip sounded fantastic, and while I don’t eat beef terribly often, I love it! Serving it open-faced Caprese style with eggplant no less makes it extra amazing. This looks delicious, Liz!
Thanks so much, Marcie! I don’t eat it too often either. So when I do, I gotta go big!
It was so great meeting you – and I can’t wait to try these – you are right, perfect for lunch or dinner! 😀
It was awesome meeting you too, Biz!
I am all about stuff on toast lately. And tenderloin is totally my favorite cut. These look so fantastic- love all the seasonal flavors!
Toast is always a good idea. And so is tenderloin! 🙂
Wow! These sandwiches are so adorable and delish! YUMMYLICIOUS!
They are pretty cute! Thanks! 🙂
wow I am salivating just by looking at these photos, the eggplant, the beef, the cheese, so in love with this combo, Pinning!
Thanks, Katalina! I hope you try them out!
Liz, these sandwiches look so awesome, from the juicy tenderloin to that crusty bread. Glad you had a good time in Denver! Also, is it just me, or was it totally unexpected that Denver would be in the 90s during summertime? I was ready for 70-degree weather last week!
It was certainly hot, but at least the air was dry. That was a relief for me, since I’m in 900% humidity!
It’s hard to impresse me with a sandwich picture, if honestly. But you’ve nailed that! This sandwich looks sooooooooo fabulous! Love the combo of meat, eggplant, and mozzarella happening here. I’m sold:) Well done, Liz!
Thanks, Ben! Glad you’re impressed! 🙂
These are gorgeous! YUM!!!
Thanks, Amanda! I hope you try them out!
Oh man, these sound amazing! I don’t cook steak too often, but I really should more often. When you pair it with amazing things like eggplant and mozz, it definitely gets my mouth watering!
Thanks, Jess! I hope you give it a try!
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